Roses Galore!

Catherine Castle visits us today with her story, A Groom For Mama, and she’s giving away a free e-book to one commenter. Thanks for joining us, Catherine.

                    My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

Readers often want to know if authors insert themselves into their books. I’ve noticed that there are a few things that always seem to slip themselves into mine. Flowers tend to be one of those things. That’s probably because I’m a gardener and love flowers.

My newest sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, is no exception. At one point in the story, Allison, Jack, and Mama visit a rose garden. So I thought it would be fun to show you some pictures of the rose gardens I’ve visited.

Columbus park of Roses, Columbus Ohio

picture  2 Innswood Metro Gardens

 

Isn’t this bench inviting? This garden has hundreds of rose bushes. The minute you walk into the park you’re surrounded by the heavenly scent of roses. I imagined the garden Allison, Jack and Mama visited smelled as heavenly as this one.

 

Innswood Metro Gardens – My husband took the shot of the roses through a circle opening in a lattice gazebo. I just love the juxtaposition of the dark and the light.

Kingwood Center garden

 

 

This as another artistically composed shot from my husband’s camera. He was an art student, so naturally he looks at the composition of a photograph.

The Roses at Disney World.

picture 4 Roses at Disney World

 

This picture was taken during Disney’s Flower and Garden Show. Every year in March-May they display hundreds of beautiful flowers. If you’ve never been, and you love gardens, you really should try to get there. It’s fantastic.

 

Catherine’s garden

 And of course, I couldn’t show you the lovely pictures of gardens I’ve visited without including one of my own award-winning garden. This is the view out of my office window. I planted knockout roses and ribbon grass around the ugly transformer box in the front of my yard. I got tired of looking at the hulking green metal box all the time.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little trip through the roses. Now, I hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from A Groom for Mama.

AGroomforMama2_200Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

 The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

 A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT:

 Beverly’s pale face broke out in a smile. “Jack!” She took the flowers from him and buried her nose in them. “They smell wonderful.” She waved him inside, hugging him as he passed by her.

He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and then glanced around the foyer.

“She’s not here right now.”

“I’m just making sure the coast is clear.” He followed Beverly into the kitchen, the click of her shoes against the hardwood floor leading the way. The house slippers had disappeared with Allison’s arrival, and Beverly had started dressing up more. He was glad to see that. He eased his tall frame into the bar chair in front of the peninsula and set the fruit basket on the counter. “I’m planning to stay as far away from Allison as possible.”

“Is that so?” Beverly’s voice held a hint of sarcasm. “You’ve been over here a lot more since she arrived.”

“Son-in-law prospects, remember?”

As she retrieved a vase from the cabinet, he busied himself untying the string around the flowers, ducking his very hot, and most likely, red face from her view. She hit closer to the mark than he cared to admit.

“How are you feeling?”

“Okay, for now. Allison’s not doing well, though. The doctor visit hit her hard. She’s determined to save me, in spite of the odds.” Beverly took the flowers from him and dropped them into the vase. “Have you got some men for me?”

He swept the fallen flower leaves off of the counter into the waste can beside the bar. Then he concentrated on flicking imaginary pollen off the granite into his hand.

“I’ve been thinking, Beverly, are you sure you want to go through with this? Wouldn’t you rather spend what time you have left with Allison just being together? This bridegroom business has to be a bone of contention. I hate to see you two in disharmony.”

“Jack Somerset. Are you trying to get out of a deal with me? Because if you are—”

“Of course not. It’s just that—”

“—you don’t want to see her with someone else?”

His head snapped up. “I’ve had her once already and found her to be a contrary woman.”

Beverly grinned. “Me-thinks thou dost protest too much.”

No answer to that. Until their breakup they hadn’t ever argued. Back then, even when they didn’t see eye to eye, they could talk. He took a set of folded papers from his hip pocket and slapped them onto the counter. “Here’s the first set of men.”

“This one looks okay,” Beverly said as she scanned them, “but let’s scrap the rest.”

He checked her selection. “I think we should let Allison decide. After all, she’s the one who’ll be saddled with the guy.”

Beverly cocked her head and studied him. “What an odd way to put it. She’s supposed to fall in love with the man and live happily ever after, you know.”

Supposed to being the operative words.”

Want to read more? You can get A Groom for Mama at Amazon.

CT Bio 8x11

About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.

Buy link for A Groom for Mama www.amzn.com/B074SZSGB1

 Catherine’s website: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com

Catherine’s blog: http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/

Catherine’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/catherinecastle

Catherine’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7085414.Catherine_Castle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCastle   @AuthorCCastle

Facebook: https://facebook.com/catherinecastleauthor

Stitches Thru Time: http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

SMP authors blog site:   http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/

 

 

The Power of Story

IMG_7762I met author Terri Picone at the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference this summer, and asked her permission to reprint this article about the power of STORY… and she has also agreed to share a prize-winning story with you at the end of this article.

Your Reader’s Brain on Story by Terri Picone

Coffee, chocolate, exercise, and . . . story?

Seems like a trick question from a standardized test. But after reading Lisa Cron’s book, Wired for Story, it’s simple.

Cron shows that just as when we eat specific foods or engage in physical activity, reading a story causes our brains to release dopamine. This truth reinforces pleasurable feelings, enabling our survival.

Readers needn’t feel guilty about indulging in an afternoon or evening of reading story. Reading a novel is not frivolous. It is fundamental.

From earliest days, stories around the campfire proved to be more than entertainment. Those who heard stories learned how to avoid danger. The brain reacts in the same way whether we run from a tiger or engage in a story with a character that shares a boat with a large tiger. The advantage of story is we don’t have to take the risks. We can learn from story. We’ll know what to do the next time we meet a tiger.

Our brains are programmed toward story. Our brains instinctively tune-in when we hear “once upon a time.”

Writers can capitalize on this whether we write fiction or nonfiction. Whatever we write, we can illustrate our nonfiction points with a story. Good stories sell, as proven by the marketing community who use story plot in their campaigns.

Writers play a powerful role in the world since brains are created to crave story. Knowing this, we can use our craft of story to share the passions in our hearts with readers. Don’t forget—it’s a proven matter of survival.

Here’s Terri’s prize-winning 2017 story, published in Idaho magazine- it’s still in my mind after reading it some time ago. If you’d like to ask Terri any questions, ask away!

https://www.idahomagazine.com/contests/fiction-writing-contest/colors-of-a-river-2017-first-place-winners-circle/

Check out Terri’s author FB page@Terri Picone, Writer

Glories

I’ve never had much luck with morning glories, but this year, decided to try again. Wow … it’s struck me how extremely fragile they are–yet many consider them a weed.

IMG_3856These didn’t bloom until the second week of September, but take a look…their periwinkle hue is So beautiful! In this photo of my husband’s, you can see how transparent the blossoms are…talk about delicate.

 

They burst open in the morning, but around noon, start to close up, and by mid-afternoon, you’d never know they’d shared their color with the world.

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Contemplating these gorgeous flowers’ short-lived blooming time set me to thinking of parallels. The most obvious, perhaps, is my faith. Though I’d rather it be constant, full-blossomed all the time, and reliable, reality says otherwise.

I waited all summer for these blossoms to show their glory, and truly appreciated them when they finally appeared. Not like steadfast marigolds that keep blooming the entire season, these frail lovelies can make their appearance and fade before you get a chance to observe.

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Still, they’re beautiful, if only in fits and starts. And all this reminds me of another fact: normal standards fall short when measuring worth.

Those who seem weakest may make a huge difference in small and seemingly insignificant ways. My World War II research overflows with people who tended their posts, no matter how mundane. No setting the world on fire, but still a certain glory in making a contribution.

My characters are like this, everyday folks intent on doing their best. One of them recently told me I’m not finished with her story, even if I thought I’d reach The End. No, she wants to contribute more, desires to make a greater sacrifice for the war effort.

Back to the drawing board … here’s hoping the result will enhance her story. And during the rainy, overcast day while I worked on that plot, guess what happened? More glories, multicolored!

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Writing Through Immersion

Please welcome Norma Gail Thurston Holtman today, who is giving away either a paper or e-copy of her debut romance novel Land of My Dreams. Your choice, just leave your contact into with your comment.

Norma, please tell us how your work takes shape. 

LoMD Bookvana cover

When the idea for a story begins to consume my mind, I mull it over for days or weeks until I grasp the characters and setting. I’m a pantster, only plotting when I get stuck or something doesn’t work.

When I finally sit down at the computer, I write in layers, first getting concepts on paper, the story deepening with each pass. Each time through the story, I concentrate on stronger hooks at the beginning and end of scenes. The characters emotions deepen, their dialogue strengthens, their interactions with setting and other characters reveal deeper meaning, and the plot intensifies. Most important, the spiritual journey of the characters congeals.

Creating a story world is very much like a method actor preparing for a role. Immersion is the key. See the setting as another character. Read books, watch movies, talk to people, do anything that helps you identify with every possible aspect of what your characters will experience. Live their life in your mind.

I create playlists on my phone for each story, try the food, travel if possible, and craft metaphors that paint clear pictures for my reader. I make screensavers that contain hundreds of photographs showing flora, fauna, geography, architecture, and everyday activities.

Research is critical. I study the geographical area, time-period of the novel, history, local hotspots, food, clothing, traditions, music, and matters of importance to the people. These have to be believable and recognizable to people who live or visit there. There is nothing wrong in creating fictional places, but there needs to be a balance with reality.

 

My debut novel, Land of My Dreams is set in Scotland and New Mexico. I do a lot of contrast and comparison, and readers seem to like it. Scots-Gaelic and lowland Scots, as well as slang create interesting language differences. The Scottish people use English words in ways that are unfamiliar to Americans. In my home state of New Mexico, both Spanish and Native American words are part of everyday conversation. The two locations create some interesting interactions between the characters.

 Writing fiction is a great adventure. At some point, the writer and characters merge and the characters take over; leading to scenarios the writer never imagined. When the writer feels the emotions of the characters, readers will as well. © Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, August 28, 2017

Norma 2017

Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 41 years. They have two adult children. If you’re interested in connecting with me, I invite you to follow my blog, join me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.

 

Echoes of the Heart

I’m pleased to introduce Donna Schalter with The Story Behind the Story of Echoes of the Heart. To one commenter, Donna will give the reader’s choice of an e-book or a print copy. Thank you so much, Donna. 

Amazon cover - larger

If you’ve ever wondered if a writer’s conference is worth the time, effort, and expense, let me assure you: it is!

My involvement in The Pony Express Romance Collection began several years ago at at an ACFW Conference, where I met up with my dear friend, Mary Davis. I asked her what she was working on, and she said she was putting together a proposal for a Pony Express novella collection. I said, “I’d love to be part of that.” She already had the four authors she needed, but if anything changed, she’d contact me.

The next month, hubby and I were planning a long weekend away, and I suggested we do some Pony Express research, “just in case”. So we traveled to Julesburg, Colorado and on into Wyoming, following the trail. Along the way, we stopped and talked to folks at visitor information centers, museums, and anywhere that advertised the Pony Express. People still love the romance and allure of the Pony Express, and it seemed as though everybody had a story.

Another month goes by, and Mary emailed to say an author had to drop out because of other commitments, and was I still interested. You bet I was! The initial concept was four stories told in chronological order at the same station, Echo Canyon Utah, with some carryover of characters from one story to the next.

And so began my romance with the Pony Express. We went through several iterations of the proposal, and the format changed to nine authors at different stations with no overlap of characters.

If I hadn’t been at that conference, I wouldn’t have known about this opportunity. At other conferences, I’ve made contact with other editors, publishers, and book packagers and been blessed to work with them on various projects. So while classes are important, don’t forget the benefits of networking!

Schlachter DSCF1330_Donna resized

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

Books: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq

Echoes of the Heart: http://amzn.to/2lBaqcW

 

 

Scents and Sense

Here it is, September. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my husband asked me to marry him. This will be our fortieth year of bliss/blessing/blundering on together. And something about the slip in the seasons–any Midwesterner can feel it in the air–makes me nostalgic.

Today I took some photos of the scents around me.

Rosemary, a heavenly aroma so akin to lavender.

Parsley, that clean drift in the wind.

Sage, bringing autumn flavors to mind. What would stuffing be without sage, and who wants to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy it?

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‘ 

 

 

 

 

Peppermint, adding a little more pizazz to an end-of-summer breeze and some gorgeous blossoms, besides. Ahh…our sense of smell has delights to offer during this season.As writers and readers, sometimes we can let one of our senses go wild. Wish I could bottle these up and send them your way!

 

 

 

End of August Abundance

Here we are, almost in September. Wth great rains this month, our garden keeps offering abundance. The potatoes have been wild with blossoms, and we’ve already enjoyed a smidgeon of the harvest.

20170829_095047Our eager squash vines cannot contain their fervor for life, running onto our neighbor’s yard and out into the alley behind our house.

 

 

Marigolds splash color around the tomato plants.  20170829_085752Here and there, morning glories add their rich hues,

 

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and the planters we added along the front of our house this year overflow with blossoms.

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Abundance … that’s the story here. Even as I write this, though, I’m thinking of all the Texas gardens destroyed by hurricane Harvey. Many long years ago, my family fled north from hurricane Beulah, (YES…I’m OLD!!) but it’s still difficult to imagine the scope of this present devastation–the gardens are the least of the massive loss.

One more item to add: just yesterday that the sequel to With Each New Dawn will release on November first. That means a lot of editing ahead for me, but you will be able to read the final segment of Kate’s story before Christmas.

Right now, the title is A Purpose True, but I learned with the last book  there’s always a possibility that can change, even late in the process. So I’m holding it with an open hand, and will let you know when I get a glimpse of the cover. Thanks for all your notes of encouragement and anticipation after reading With Each New Dawn, and for subscribing to my blog. Bless you! 

Subscribing

It’s a red-letter day in my blog land. Due to a new author friend asking me how she can sign up for this blog, my IT person (If anyone needs one, let me know, I’ll give you his address . . .) has created a place to subscribe on the right side of the blog.

You probably are seeing it now, and might be thinking, “THIS is big news?”

Well, it is for moi!

YIMG_4608es, I know I probably should have added this feature long ago, but my characters often learn lessons about not wasting time in regret and just plunging ahead.

 

And so do I. So if you have an interest in knowing when I’ve posted a new article, please do sign up. Bless you all.

Engaged: Surrendering the Future

NOTE: Julie Arduini tells about her latest novel here, and is giving one away to a commenter. Enjoy! 

EngagedFinal-page-001_editedLast year I led a ladies Sunday School group through Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited. We shared personal stories, so I recalled a time I thought my future was all lined out. I was so certain I knew what God had for me that I went to the library to read up books on my calling. Granted, I had no confirmation in any way this was where my life was headed.

I was a new Christian who thought I knew everything, most of all, the course for my life. When I was wrong, so very wrong, I told the class that I didn’t even cry. I had a peace that I now know came from God. I ended that season by saying if that path wasn’t for me, and it had been so nice, then I looked forward to what WAS His plan. His answer and very obvious plans for me came to pass not even a year later.

That’s why I related to the heroine in ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future. Trish Maxwell thought she had everything figured out for herself. As a little girl in the mountain village of Speculator Falls, her eyes focused on living in New York City. When the job offer came, Trish left her hometown without even saying goodbye. She left her position at the senior center, all the seniors, and even her high school sweetheart, Ben Regan.

Trish was part of ENTRUSTED, and she played a mean girl of sorts. She felt the small village was beneath her, and she had no idea how hurt everyone was about her leaving. When ENGAGED began, Trish changed. The dream job was a nightmare, and it didn’t last. She returned to Speculator Falls, living with her parents. She worked at the department store. Ben married the city-girl who replaced Trish at the senior center. And a lot of people weren’t thrilled to see Trish return.

The heart of ENGAGED explores what God can do when we surrender failed dreams for His plans. When Trish met paramedic Wayne Peterson, she didn’t know about his growing faith borne out of surrender. He had to give up childish plans for what was best. Trish didn’t have a “Plan B,” and her faith was more about doing whatever her parents did. She had a bit of maturing to do, but was willing. It was such a fun story to write.

I’ve been asked about my favorite part to write, and I loved the entire story. Not only did the story come full circle, I was able to wrap up the Surrendering Time series, too. However, when I needed to pick one thing, I admitted every scene with Trish and senior volunteer extraordinaire Shirley McIlwain together wrote itself. Shirley took her duties at the senior center seriously and when Trish left, Shirley couldn’t shake the betrayal. As ENGAGED moved forward, the two interacted a lot. When they attended a baby shower, it was a sweet moment that I’m proud of.

Trish, of course, encountered romance along the way. Wayne, a single-dad, took that role seriously, which wasn’t always the case. Wayne listened to the gossipy whispers that Trish would leave town as soon as the opportunity came, so their romance had conflict from the beginning. Did they work out their issues? I hope you’ll read ENGAGED to find out!

I have ONE copy of ENGAGED to give to a North American winner.

Did you miss reading Book 1, ENTRUSTED? Read the e-Version for FREE at juliearduini.com.

Julie ArduiniJuly2017 loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. The last book in the series, ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future released in June. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and also is a blogger for Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities.

 

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Undiscovered Treasure in our Back Yard

Who knew? Purslane, a native Arizona plant I included in one of my novels, also grows in our Iowa back yard. But I only recently discovered at the Des Moines farmers’ market that purslane is edible and also offers a TON of health benefits.

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Suffice it to say I’ve now re-instated  a weed into my vegetable patches. And we’re eating purslane in salads, soups, and a truly delicious pesto.

Sometimes we say, “Who knew?” about other treasures hidden in our own heritage. Maybe a fresh whiff of wisdom reveals a different side of a conundrum that has puzzled us for years, and we grasp the meaning behind someone’s behavior.

Maybe even our OWN behavior . . . life’s journey finally exposes a facet that we’ve missed until now. In the past couple of years, for example, my husband has discovered amazing sights, simply by taking the time to look  up.

 

IMG_9379Until Now might make a good title for a novel some day … Kate, the heroine of With Each New Dawn, experiences many until now moments. Maybe that’s because as an orphan, she entertains so many questions about her past.

What a positive thought–the more questions we have, the more opportunities for new discoveries. May the rest of your summer send some your way! (Just found a purslane plant with bright yellow blossoms!)

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